ASIA/PAKISTAN - Blasphemy via WhatsApp: Christian arrested, risk of "collective punishment"

Tuesday, 12 July 2016 blasphemy   the internet   religious minorities   religious freedom   islam  

P. A.

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "Digital blasphemy" is gaining ground in Pakistan. According to Fides sources complaints of blasphemy that record the alleged crime of insulting Islam or Prophet Muhammad committed on the web or on social networks, as evidenced by the last case of the Christian James Nadeem, arrested for a blasphemous message via "WhatsApp", are increasing. "The script is the same: a believer accused, and the accused is always to be proven, but then it is the whole community that risks collective punishment", explains to Fides Fr. Emmanuel Parvez who, in the diocese of Faisalabad, in Punjab, tries to prevent these accidents.
"We summoned the religious leaders and imams of the area and we exchanged opinions about this matter. We reiterated our respect for Islam and all religions. And we have made a request: if there is an incident of alleged blasphemy, we must face the question together, to avoid mass violence", says Fr. Parvez.
The latest case is that of Christian James Nadeem, accused of blasphemy in the district of Gujrat (Pakistani Punjab) after his friend Yasir Bashir said that Nadeem had sent via WhatsApp a blasphemous poem, which lacked respect to Islamic holy figures. A complaint was registered by the police and Nadeem and his relatives were arrested. Police also placed agents in the Christian area of the town of Sara-i-Alamgir, where the incident occurred, to prevent accidents or mass attacks. In the past, such incidents triggered violence against Christian communities. In the district there are 30 Christian families who still live in fear. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 12/07/2016)